The Telegraph have reported a study by researchers of Tufts University in Massachusetts which has shown that T’ai Chi practice leads to a significant improvement in symptoms of arthritis of the knee. As well as reduced pain, the participants were able to ‘move more easily, were less depressed and were in overall better health’. Considering that they had only 12 weeks of T’ai Chi practice, the results are remarkable.
In China, T’ai Chi is routinely practiced by a large percentage of the population, especially the elderly, and has become increasingly common in the UK. I remember trying to explain it to my confused friends when I took my first t’ai chi class around 14 years ago – now pretty much everyone has heard of it, and there are classes in most towns.
The slow, rhythmic movements of the T’ai Chi forms teach a great level of body awareness, leading to an increased ability to recognise physical stress and strain, and hence reduce it. It also gently works all the joints and muscles, leading to improved flexibility, better muscle tone and better balance. It also helps to circulate Qi and Blood throughout the body, which reduces pain. All of these effects help to explain why the arthritis sufferers felt so much much benefit from their practice.
The full story can be found here